Van Gogh painting looted by Nazis expected to sell for $30 million

Van Gogh's Wheat Stacks is being auctioned by Christie's * This is the first time the painting is being displayed publicly since 1905.

 A self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
A self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)

A Van Gogh painting looted by Nazis is going on auction at Christie's and is estimated to fetch up to $30 million.

Vincent Van Gogh painted Meules de blé (Wheat Stacks) during his time in Arles where he was recovering from his mental illness. The painting first belonged to Theo and Johanna Van Gogh, Vincent's brother and sister-in-law, until it was bought by Max Meirowsky, a Jewish industrialist, in 1913, per Christie's auction house.

View the painting here.

By the 1930s, Meirowsky was facing antisemitic persecution in Germany, so he sold some of his art collection and fled to Amsterdam. During the journey, he entrusted Meules de blé, which he had not sold, to the Paul Graupe & Cie group in Paris.

Once in Paris, the painting was acquired by Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild, a Jewish medical student. Alexandrine had inherited an art collection from her father. Most of her collection consisted of literary and musical manuscripts, but in the mid-1930s, she began collecting Post-Impressionist paintings.

After World War II broke out, Alexandrine fled to Switzerland, and her art collection, including Meules de blé, was confiscated by the Nazis. After the war, Alexandrine tried to retrace her art collection, but while she found other works, Meules de blé remained elusive to her.

A MAN looks at a painting titled ‘The Bathers’ during a 2008 exhibition devoted to finding owners of paintings looted by the Nazis. (credit: REUTERS)A MAN looks at a painting titled ‘The Bathers’ during a 2008 exhibition devoted to finding owners of paintings looted by the Nazis. (credit: REUTERS)

According to Christie's records, the painting was transferred to Schloss Kogl in 1941 and was bought from him by Wildenstein & Co. Inc. in 1978. A year later it was purchased by Edwin Lochridge Cox and remained in his possession until his death in 2020.

Following Cox's death, a dispute broke out between the Meirowsky and de Rothschild descendants over the rightful ownership of the painting. According to Christie's, the two families have reached a settlement agreement.

This is the first time the painting has been displayed publicly since 1905. The artwork will be sold at Christie's The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism, Evening Sale on November 11th.